Brief personal background, education, career, bio: 

Brenda Olson

I am a graduate of PRHS, FFCC, and Moorhead State University. I was born and raised in Pelican Rapids. I have been employed with Park Region Telephone for 24 years. I have been involved in teaching Sunday school, WOTC Extension Committee, 4H, Viking Gala, and post prom committee, to name a few. I have been married to my husband Mike for 20 years, and we have a 16-year-old daughter named Thea. We have a little hobby farm with beef cows, horses, goats, sheep, miniature donkeys, corn, beans, and alfalfa. We open up our farm and home every Fall for Thea’s Pumpkin Patch & Maze.

Please explain your motivation for seeking the Pelican Rapids School Board seat. 

I want to make things better for our kids. I want to help create new opportunities for their education – give them more choices. We have excellent teachers in our district, and I want to help keep them here. Pelican Rapids is known for great teachers, high honors in their band and choir programs, strong and competitive sports programs, as well as our arts, to name a few areas. I want to help to continue growing these programs and adding strengthening others.

What do you see as the opportunities and challenges in the Pelican district? 

There is something for everyone here. From acting in plays, FFA, Math Team, various sports, FCA, and music – there is an area for everyone. I see the opportunities continuing to grow in work studies and internships within our community. We are excited to offer the CNA class this Fall at school through partnership right here in Pelican, and hopefully, we will be able to offer more soon. Give our kids credit and experience while they try out something they may want to do in the future. I think our biggest challenge is enrollment. Keeping our current students and growing our student bodies. The pandemic opened up a whole new world for education. We need to work to get students into our school where they will benefit from the social interaction, extracurricular activities, two healthy meals, and the collaboration of solving problems with others. Many of these are not going to be found taking classes online or through other programs always.

 In your view, what has the district done well in recent years? 

The district has done an excellent job in creating some financial stability. Four years ago, our district was not in a good place financially – and unfortunately, decisions had to be made that no one wanted to make. I feel the district is in a good place right now and working to make an even stronger foundation, allowing for more flexibility in moving forward. The district has also gone through more than the average difficult situations in the past few years, which required everyone to come together and step up to create new normalcy to continue providing for our students in the best way possible.

What has the district done that you would change or improve upon?

Communication. I believe we can never communicate enough. It is important to always have the lines open and encourage the communication, whether it be positive or negative to flow. There are always going to be ways to improve on getting information out to people in a timely manner and making sure everyone receives and understands the information.

The “achievement gap” has been an issue in almost every school district. What causes it? What can be done? 

I feel the achievement gap is caused by the way each individual learns. Obviously, everyone learns differently, and often there are barriers that add to that, such as language or special needs. Somehow we need to work to focus on the individual. Creating greater connections within the school, and between school and home can hopefully help to close the gap. Working to engage all students as well.

• See the other School Board candidate questionnaires here.